Novena Day 5
Saint Raphael Kalinowski (1835–1907)

“Our Redeemer ever present in the most Blessed Sacrament, extends His hands to everyone. He opens His heart and says, ‘Come to Me, all of you.’”

Saint Raphael Kalinowski
Feast Day ~ November 19

Jozef Kalinowski was born into a Polish noble family in the city of Vilnius, in present-day Lithuania in September 1835. Jozef proved to be a capable and distinguished student, studying engineering, agriculture and mathematics. In 1853, he joined the Russian military and continued his studies in civil engineering in St. Petersburg. In 1863, Jozef was promoted to the rank of captain, by which time, the Russians occupied Poland and the Polish insurrection against the Russians erupted.

Jozef’s sympathetic views toward the Poles prompted him to resign from the Russian army, and he soon actively engaged in fighting the Russians. He subsequently was captured and given a death sentence by firing squad. In 1864 this was commuted to 10 years’ exile and hard labor in Siberia. Jozef endured the 9-month long forced-march to Siberia with other prisoners of war. Jozef remained a prisoner at hard labor for 10 years, during which time he became a spiritual advisor to the other prisoners – giving them hope, and encouraging them to turn to God in prayer.

During his imprisonment in Siberia, Jozef became aware of his growing vocation to the priesthood. In 1887, he entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Linz, Austria, taking the name Raphael of St. Joseph. By 1882, he was ordained a priest and at this time, Russian suppression of religious communities in Poland had eased. In 1883, he was named prior of the Carmelite monastery in Czerna, allowing him to return to Poland, where he worked hard to restore the presence of the order in Poland and Ukraine, by founding several communities of friars and nuns.

There was a three-fold aspect to Saint Raphael’s Carmelite spirituality. First, he worked tirelessly with schismatic Russians, teaching them the Catholic faith and encouraging them to turn toward Christ. Second, he placed great focus on the sacrament of Confession, soon becoming a much sought-after confessor and spiritual director. Third, his overall spiritual life was one of constant prayer, austerity and silence – teaching his novices to follow his example. Saint Raphael Kalinowski died of tuberculosis in 1907 at the age of 72.